Watch Steel!


THE late Charles M. Schwab used to tell the story of one of his mill superintendents who wanted to go to Germany to marry a German girl. ‘By the way, William,’ Mr. Schwab had inquired, ‘I suppose she is one of those slender, flaxen-haired German girls?’ ‘Well, no, Sharley,’ the mill superintendent replied, ‘I can’t just say she is. Indeed,’ he said, ‘if I had the rolling of her I would give her about two more passes.’

Steel men have a language of their own. Their world is steel. And steel is the centre of the universe of industry. Around it revolve constellations of other industries, all depending upon steel for their structure and strength. The old saying, ‘As steel goes, so goes the nation,’ is particularly true today. The puffing blast furnaces, the roaring open hearths, the cathedral-like rolling mills at Gary, Bethlehem, Youngstown, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, are vital to America’s fine of defense. How has this fundamental industry fared during the past decade of depression in this country? Upon the answer to this question may depend the outcome of the struggle in Europe, and eventually our own salvation.

The years since 1929 have been bleak for the steel industry, but the astonishing fact is that during this time the quality of our steel has shown a greater improvement than in any other period of the industry’s existence. Until the First World War much of our quality steel came from Europe. During the war American needles, steel scissors, and razor blades were all below par. After the Armistice the American quality-steel industry, which had been leading a struggling existence around Canton and Massillon, Ohio, was reborn.

Today steels are tailor-made. We fashion our automobiles from one group of steels, our railroad trains from another, our tanks and battleships from still others. And the future may see us clothing our houses in a steel which is now in the development stage.

Modern war means speed, swift hitting power, and manœuvrability. So much could not have been accomplished with the old carbon steels that spanned our continent as transcontinental rails. It could not have been accomplished with the steel used in the First World War, nor with the steel which we used in the twenties. In aircraft, speed and pay load are important. The steel used in an airplane engine must, above all, be strong enough to withstand the terrific shocks it must undergo in pulling out of a dive at 400 miles an hour. It must also be light in weight as compared with its strength. The stronger the steel, the lighter and faster the plane and the more bombs it can carry.

The Liberty Engine in the First World War was designed for a maximum of 410 horsepower and a weight of 710 pounds — 1.7 pounds per horsepower. However, this objective was never actually reached. The best attained was two pounds per horsepower. A widely used in-line engine of today, corresponding to the Liberty, weighs 1.23 pounds per horsepower on the block, and at cruising speed 1.86 pounds per horsepower. Another model weighs 1.1 pounds per horsepower on the block and 1.8 pounds per horsepower at cruising speed. And the modern engines are able to withstand from two to three times as much stress as those of over twenty years ago.

Or take the steel used in making the turbogenerators which are so important in our Navy. In 1920 the highest pressure at which turbogenerators were operated ranged from 250 to 300 pounds, and the highest temperature from 600 to 650 degrees Fahrenheit. Today turbogenerators are operated under a pressure of 2400 pounds, almost ten times as much, and at a temperature ranging from 950 to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, an increase of over 50 per cent. This tremendous pressure and high temperature would have been utterly impossible with the kind of steel available twenty years ago.

By a radically new method of processing, steel sheets today can be produced 33 1/3 per cent thinner and 20 per cent wider than was possible in the middle twenties. They can now be made in coils thousands of feet long as compared with a former maximum length of 100 inches. The deep drawing qualities have been increased 30 to 40 per cent, permitting deeper forming of much more complicated shapes. The modern onepiece automobile steel top is pressed out in one operation from a single sheet of metal. A front fender can now be drawn out of one sheet in the same way in one operation.

Such a fender is made, for the most part, out of simple, unalloyed carbon steel; it is formed by stretching a single sheet of steel as much as 50 per cent during the shaping. Formerly fenders were made from two or more pieces of steel, and the steel could be stretched only 15 to 20 per cent. Research men studied the problem of the composition of steel and its texture. They noted the results obtained by various mechanical deformations, heat treatments, and coldrolling operations. The result has been a steel that can be gracefully shaped as one piece of metal, strong and yet light. The fine grain and dense polished surface of modern sheet steel have made possible the use of far superior lacquers. The average base price of steel sheets used in making automobile bodies is now more than 30 per cent lower than during the middle twenties.

Building of skyscrapers has been in relatively small volume during the past ten years, yet the use of an improved series of beams, known as wide-flange beams, has permitted construction savings running as high as 20 per cent in tier buildings and from 5 to 10 per cent in large bridges and light mill buildings. Bulkheads, sea walls, and similar retaining walls can now be built with modern improved steel sheet piling more than twice as strong as was possible with the steel sheet piling of five or six years ago, and at a cost of only 7 per cent more per square foot. This will be useful in building our newly acquired naval bases in the Caribbean.

This list of improvements in the quality of steel could be multiplied many times. Automobile transmission gears have had their weight reduced by 15 to 20 per cent, without sacrifice of service value. Railroad freight and passenger cars weigh from 10 to 22 per cent less than cars of conventional construction made of plain carbon steel. The steel used in the new lighter cars has a yield point 50 to 100 per cent higher and is four to six times more resistant to atmospheric corrosion. In modern oilrefining plants, highly alloyed seamless steel tubes, with from 10,000 to 60,000 hours of useful life, have replaced tubes which rarely lasted more than 2000 to 6000 hours. The introduction of special thermal treatments has remarkably reduced rail failures due to transverse fissures. In rails rolled in the five years following the introduction of these methods in 1932, there were only 9 such failures in the first year of service, as compared with 343 such failures in the first year of service in rails rolled during 1927-1931. The key to all this lies in the better controls inaugurated throughout the steelmaking process. These range all the way from temperature control to exact control of the speed and pressure of the huge rolls in the rolling mills.


The steel industry currently spends more than $10,000,000 annually on its research, which is 20 per cent more than it spent in 1929. More than 2550 engineers, metallurgists, physicists, and other technical experts are now employed in the research laboratories of the steel industry. Although the programs for the various companies differ, on an average in a recent year 33 cents out of each research dollar have gone into the study of improving the quality of steel, 28 cents into finding new uses for steel, 20 cents into finding new products, and 19 cents into improving methods of production.

United States Steel, for instance, has 174 laboratory departments throughout the corporation. Rufus E. Zimmerman, vice president in charge of metallurgy and research, called by many the ‘Kettering’ of the steel industry, devotes his efforts not only to new products, but to the more mundane development of costcutting processes. One device alone saves the company $500,000 a year in the cost of refractories. Another bit of research — on the brick linings of coke ovens — revealed that the oven batteries could be cooled off if held for some time at the proper temperature, without smashing the linings to smithereens. Carnegie-Illinois Steel Corporation, largest steel-producing unit in the world, is studying the fundamental principles that govern the way each steel responds to the cutting tool. Progress has already been made along these lines by Inland Steel, which has developed a new steel containing about one quarter of one per cent of lead, improving the machinability by from 50 to 100 per cent. This steel is in great demand in England at the present time.

Research never stops. At present Bethlehem Steel, leader of the ‘independents,’ has under investigation the following: (1) the blending of coals to produce more suitable coke for blast furnaces; (2) the treatment of iron before charging into the open hearth to lower sulphur content; (3) improvement of the refractories used in open-hearth furnaces. The solution of any one of these problems would raise the quality of steel still further. Republic Steel, third largest steel company, has nearly 800 metallurgists and research men in its plants and laboratories. National, Inland, American Rolling Mill, Jones & Laughlin, Youngstown, and the other steel companies are all devoting more attention to research than at any previous time in their history.

Perhaps the most dramatic change in the past decade has been the rise of alloy steels. One of the most popular of these unions has been the famous ‘ 18 and 8,’ meaning 18 per cent chromium and 8 per cent nickel. This is a stainless steel which can remarkably resist corrosion and erosion. Chromium steels are among the most versatile of the alloys. Their ability to resist corrosion and oxidation accounts for the remarkable strides made in the manufacture and use of stainless irons and steels during the past few years. Vanadium, another alloying element, is particularly effective in imparting fine-grain size to all steels to which it is added. Tungsten made possible the production of cutting tools that retain sharp edges even when running red-hot. Cobalt has similar properties. Molybdenum increases the hardness, impact, and fatigue values of steel. Nickel increases toughness and ductility. Copper assists in resisting atmospheric corrosion. Manganese, probably the most important of the elements employed in steelmaking, is used not only for alloying, but widely as a deoxidizer and desulphurizer. Oxygen in steel makes for brittleness, while too much sulphur causes the steel to crack during rolling or forging.

There are more than 4200 sizes and shapes of primary steel products now in existence. But there is a drawback in this. ‘Try driving down the left-hand side of Fifth Avenue,’ Benjamin F. Fairless, president of United States Steel, has remarked in urging the need for standardization. Authorities are confident that half this number of specifications would serve equally well; they point out that 95 per cent of the total ingot tonnage is accounted for by about 225 significant types of steel. Although nearly 600 alloys are in use, only 65 alloy steels, exclusive of stainless steel, are widely used.

This drive towards standardization of products will be helpful to the industry in meeting the demands of the defense program. It is authoritatively estimated that the industry’s production could be increased in the neighborhood of 10 per cent on the same facilities with reasonable standardization. In times of peace, standardization of products will result in a more uniform operation of steel plants. Steel has always been a princeor-pauper industry, and largely because very few of its products permitted of manufacture in advance. Plant capacity far in excess of average consumption has had to be maintained to handle business on short notice. Thus the emphasis of the steel industry upon tailor-made steels during the thirties may have already reached its highest point.

During the next few years the emphasis will be upon increased production for steel. The demands of our defense program, of Great Britain and the Dominions, plus South America, are pouring in upon our steel industry, whose output is sold about three months ahead. America is the arsenal of the western world, and the steel industry is the arsenal of America.

Production has been speeded up by the almost universal installation of the continuous wide-strip and sheet-rolling mills. In comparison, the old hand mills, in which the steel was rolled and then handed back with tongs to be rolled again, are as different from the new mills as the old blacksmith shop is from the modern forge shop making our battleship steels.

Although the introduction of the continuous rolling mill is the most striking change, progress has been made in other production methods. According to Myron C. Taylor, scarcely one quarter of the Corporation’s steel production in 1937 was fabricated in the same fashion as the production of 1928. The fundamentals upon which the process of steelmaking rest have not been altered, but very little of the steelmaking process or equipment has remained the same.

Unlike the automobile plant, which to the casual observer seems to be a mesh of belt lines and overhead conveyors, all operated on the theory of perpetual motion, the steel plant is relatively simple. There is an assembly of raw materials, to be sure, — ore from Minnesota, coal from the Appalachians, limestone, — and various alloying materials are needed. But once these three basic raw materials, plus the alloys, are concentrated in one steel yard, then it is up to the steelmaker to transform them into the bright, strong substance that is modern steel. For that he needs coke ovens, blast furnaces, steelmaking furnaces (including openhearth, Bessemer, and electric), rolling mills (blooming, slabbing, bar, structural, hot-strip, cold-strip, tin-plate, and others), and annealing furnaces.

The making of steel begins at the coke oven. Coke is made in two kinds of oven: the beehive and the by-product. The beehive is the older-type oven, consisting of a domelike chamber with a hole in the top through which the coal is charged and the volatile gases escape. The beehive has grown increasingly less important, from manufacturing 11 per cent of our coke in 1929 to 3 per cent a decade later. But right now the existence of many old beehive ovens is proving a lifesaver. Coke is the tightest spot in the whole steelmaking process. We have been actually importing coke from England for our tidewater steel plants, such as Sparrows Point, Maryland. The result is that hundreds of old beehives are being relighted, some of them dark since 1918. In the Birmingham area vagrant Negro families who had set up housekeeping in these idle ovens had to be moved out.

Most of our coke is made in our byproduct coke ovens. The by-product ovens are airtight, and the gases formed are saved. Less than 40 per cent of the gas is used to heat the ovens, the rest being available for other uses. Byproducts to the value of $150,000,000 have been obtained in a single year, including tar, crude light oils, and many chemicals, such as ammonium sulphate, benzol, and toluol, which are important in national defense. Recently a new process developed by Republic Steel has increased the recovery of pyridine in coke gases by 90 per cent.

The blast furnace, in which the raw iron is made, is surely one of the most formidable cogs of our whole industrial machine. It is Gargantuan in size, with a hungry maw that constantly demands nourishment of ore and coke and limestone. The little skip hoists that run up and down the sides of the great furnace at regular intervals with their alimentary cargoes, the breathing and sighing of the huge monster as blasts of air are constantly being blown through it to reduce the iron ore to metal, and finally the tapping of the molten iron and its running in a fiery torrent out of the furnace’s scorched mouth — all this wonder and mystery, which has always attended man’s making of iron, still remains.

But the blast furnace has been getting bigger and bigger. Where ten years ago a blast furnace of 600 tons daily capacity was normal size, now a daily capacity of 1250 tons is not uncommon. It was discovered that the larger furnaces showed less lining deterioration than the smaller ones, which has been a factor in the enlargement policy. Where a furnace 20 feet in hearth diameter produced 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 tons on a lining, a furnace 26 feet in hearth diameter today may produce from 2,000,000 to 3,000,000 tons. Improvements are made in blast furnaces almost every time they are down for repairs, but since this does not happen very often, perhaps not for five or six years, it takes some time for all the blast furnaces in the industry to incorporate all the improvements.

One of the most recent developments in the blast furnace is the use of airconditioning equipment. This is capable of removing from 7 to 40 tons of water a day from the air blown into a large blast furnace in order to control more closely the quality of the iron produced. On hot, humid days more coke must be charged per ton of iron to offset the excess moisture in the air.

There were 236 furnaces in blast in 1929, which produced 655 tons per day per furnace. By contrast, in 1939 there were only 186 furnaces in blast, but these produced 737 tons per day per furnace. Thus, although the number of blast furnaces declined, the average output of each rose by 13 per cent. Similar marks of efficiency can be seen in the decreased use of ore, limestone, and coke to produce one ton of pig iron. It takes 2.2 per cent less iron ore, 5 per cent less limestone, and 3 per cent less coke to produce one ton of pig iron in 1939 than in 1929, a direct reflection of the fruits of the ingenuity of the blast-furnace men. These savings may not seem great, but, spread over the year’s production of pig iron, they amount to millions of tons of iron ore, limestone, and coke — and the national economy is the beneficiary of this conservation.

From the blast furnace the molten iron goes to the open hearth, to be combined with scrap and limestone and manganese and other metals, and refined into steel. In the open hearth greater changes have taken place than in the blast furnace. The furnaces have been enlarged in size, with increased hearth area. Through the introduction of automatic mechanisms for control, such as indicators for reading the temperature of the middle or bath of the furnace, fuel requirements per heat have been reduced. The almost universal adoption of a sloping back wall to the furnace has reduced maintenance costs and decreased the hazard when the furnace is tapped in the rear and the molten steel flows out at the end of a heat.

A battery of open hearths in a steel mill is a sight never to be forgotten. Most of the furnaces are fired by natural gas or oil. But there used to be many human stokers on hand to throw in the scrap and limestone and other metals. Now most of this is done with a giant charging machine that inserts its huge hand with its cargo right into the centre of the fiery furnace, distributes it evenly, and then goes out again for another load. The overhead crane, which seems constantly on the move in an openhearth shop, carries the huge ladle of molten iron, tips it, and dumps it in the open hearth. Away from the furnaces are the control boards, full of dials and other measuring instruments. They determine the cooking of the steel.

A good open-hearth melter still has to look into the heart of his furnace and use his own judgment as a check upon the various control devices to determine whether the steel is really done or not. In the molten, tumultuous sea of whitehot steel, bubbling and gurgling in the furnace as in a kettle, he can detect tiny black specks which mean that that part of the steel is not yet ready. He can tell by the color the degree of heat, within about 100 degrees (the heats will run up to 3000 degrees) —just as a good blastfurnace man claims that he can tell by the soft rumble and heaving of his blast furnace when it is about to bear finished iron.

Mechanization, to a certain degree, has been adopted — but not universally. Steel is still a man’s game— hazardous, although emphasis upon safety measures has reduced accidents to an all-time low; exciting, because, although steelmaking is more scientifically controlled than ever, there are still a few moments in which the steel can be either made or ruined; strenuous, because machines have not yet taken all the hand work out of a steel man’s job; and satisfactory, because steel men feel that they are doing a man’s work in making the basic material of our modern life.


Typical of these men who feel that romance still lives in steelmaking is Leo F. Reinartz, one of the leading authorities on open hearths in the country, and manager of the East Works of the American Rolling Mill in Middletown, Ohio. The open hearth, to him, is almost a living being, ever-changing in its moods and appearance. Here are some of the changes that he has seen take place within the last ten years. The average roof life of the furnace used to be 100-150 heats; now it is from 300 to 350 heats. It has been estimated that this one saving alone has reduced the cost of steel by one dollar a ton. Insulation has been introduced on the furnace bottom and in other parts of the furnace as well. Estimates have been made in some plants where insulation was applied generally below the charging floor level which show a 5 per cent increase in the melting area and a 7 per cent decrease in the fuel consumption.

Such improvements naturally result in a considerable rise in open-hearth efficiency. Production records of four representative open-hearth furnaces actually show an increase in output of 31 per cent between 1929 and 1939. A few years ago Jones & Laughlin, possessor of more Bessemer converters for its capacity than any other steel company, decided that something had to be done in order to meet the new demand for quality steels. It undertook to find a substitute for the human eye, some invariable method unaffected by fatigue, inattention, or poor physical condition, which affect the most skilled eyes at times. The result was the discovery of the ‘Bessemer Flame Control,’ a precision control with an arrangement of photoelectric cells as the actuating element. In conjunction with the cells and as a part of the control system, a complete instrument panel provides accurate regulation of blowing conditions. Already, Jones & Laughlin has licensed several other large steel companies to use its new method of manufacturing steel. This will increase the country’s capacity for steel production by releasing for highquality steel those open-hearth furnaces at present producing medium-quality steel, which the new improved Bessemer furnaces can now produce. Since America’s Bessemer capacity has been revised downward year by year during the thirties, as more and more Bessemers were taken out of production, this new development will help to raise our steelmaking capacity just at the time we need it most.

The greatest relative advance has been made in our electric-furnace capacity. At the end of 1929 a total of 1,459,000 tons of electric-furnace steel could be produced. At the present time electric-furnace capacity is 2,600,000 tons, and by the end of this year it will be close to 3,000,000 tons. Electricfurnace steel is the most easily controlled of all, and hence is invaluable for use in airplanes, warships, and other instruments of warfare, where increased strength and decreased weight may save lives and win battles. Whereas the average Bessemer converter can produce about 1600 tons in twenty-four hours, and the average open hearth about 225 tons, the average electric furnace produces between 30 and 100 tons. But electric-furnace steel is twice as expensive as open-hearth steel. Three 50-ton furnaces, for example, may require as much power as a large steel plant. Electric-furnace steels are, assuredly, the aristocrats of the industry.

Electricity is used solely for the production of heat and does not, of itself, impart any mysterious properties to steel. It generates extremely high temperature (up to 3500 degrees Fahrenheit) very rapidly, and at all times has the temperature under precise control. Furthermore, the production of heat by electricity is unique in that oxygen is not necessary to support combustion, and the atmosphere within an electric furnace can be regulated at will. I he quantity of oxygen can thus be precisely controlled, which is not the case in the openhearth and Bessemer processes. In addition, the electric-furnace process permits the addition of extensive alloying elements to molten steel without loss by oxidization.

But it is in the rolling mills that the greatest advances in production have taken place. The great Irvin Works of Carnegie-Illinois outside of Pittsburgh, the Lackawanna Plant of Bethlehem Steel at Buffalo, the Cuyahoga Works of Republic Steel at Cleveland, the Campbell Works of Youngstown Steel at Youngstown, the East Works of American Rolling Mill at Middletown, the Great Lakes Steel Works of National Steel at Detroit, the Indiana Harbor Works of Inland Steel at Indiana Harbor— all these and others benefit by the new method of production that has been widely introduced in the last ten years. Conceived by John B. Tytus, of Middletown, Ohio, son of a paper manufacturer, who sought to transmit the efficiencies of continuous paper manufacturing to steel, the first continuous rolling mill was opened by American Rolling Mill in 1923 in Ashland, Kentucky. But it was not until toward the late twenties that the process was introduced on a small scale into the industry. In 1930 Inland Steel decided to make the biggest continuous mill in existence, and at the pit of the depression it opened its 72-inch mill at Indiana Harbor. National Steel followed with its plant in Detroit in 1935, and the other companies have followed suit.

Let us look into the Irvin Works, now the largest plant of its kind today, perched in the middle of a hillside about fifteen miles from Pittsburgh. Enter the works at one end and look down the long corridor. It is barely possible to see the other end, the mill is so long. It is more than one mile long and over onehalf mile wide. In it steel is rolled continuously, from the time it enters the mill in its slab form, through the roughing mill, through the series of wide-strip mills which reduce its thickness, then on to other mills, always faster and faster, from a crawling speed up to twenty-five miles an hour at the time it rolls out of the last mill as finished hot strip, looking something like the magic carpet of Arabia. The same revolutionary changes have taken place in the further reduction and refining of hot strip to cold strip, in the pickling process in which the scale is removed, and in the slower-rolling, coldfinishing mills. The final product is smooth and shiny, and of accurate gauge.

It is almost traditional now that the engineers who designed the new continuous rolling mills are too conservative in their estimates of what these new mills can do. In practically every instance the capacity has been exceeded by an ample margin. This is the case with the Irvin Works. Its capacity was at first calculated by the engineers at 672,000 tons; but through efficient production methods its steel men have already raised this at least 20 per cent. Most of the work is done automatically, but men in the ‘pulpit,’ the control board high above the mill, and men placed at strategic intervals in the mill line constantly watch and check and regulate. The machines do the work, at least most of it, in the continuous rolling mill process, but the surprising thing is that employment, as a whole, has increased.

Charles R. Hook, president of American Rolling Mill, has some interesting figures on this point with reference to his company, pioneer in this new process. The rolling of sheets up to the time of the continuous rolling mill was largely a hand operation. In 1926 American Rolling Mill employed 6060 persons; during the first nine months of 1939, 10,322 persons. That figured out to 1.36 employees per each 100 tons of output in 1926 and 1.46 employees per each 100 tons of output in 1939. The same has been true for other companies, according to Mr. Hook. In the sheet, strip, and tin-plate departments of eight companies which he surveyed, the number of men employed actually increased by 34 per cent during this interval. The total number of hand mills for producing hot-rolled sheets and black plate was 1264 in 1926 and is only 750 today, with about half of these in operation. Yet jobs have increased, partly because the continuous mill requires workers that were not needed in the hand mill, such as bearing setters and helpers, welders, recoil operators, and stitcher operators. And men who were skin passers, shearmen, bandlers, oilers, weighers, picklers, and cranemen on the hand mills do the same kind of work on the new mills. Moreover, the consumer has benefited as much as the worker, for prices have fallen. In 1923 American Rolling Mill received $152.55 a ton for the enameling iron used in washing machines, one of their specialties; in 1938, $80 a ton. Lower prices have helped expand the market, which in turn has created employment.

According to the best estimates in the industry, the demands of our nationaldefense program will account for, at the most, 7 to 8 million tons of ingots annually in 1941 and 1942. The British needs are calculated at around 8 million tons of ingots, and other exports at roughly 5 million tons. All told, war and export and domestic demands should not run over 82 million tons in 1941, and that is allowing for a 20 per cent increase in domestic consumption over 1940. The present capacity of the industry to produce steel ingots is more than 84 million tons. In 1940 the industry actually produced 66,600,000 tons, a greater amount than the 63,205,000 tons produced in 1929. And in 1941 capacity will be expanded by another 3-4 million tons.

The proposal made in January by Philip Murray, president of the CIO and chairman of the Steel Workers’ Organizing Committee, that steel output could be increased by nearly 6,000,000 tons, appears to have confused rather than clarified the issues. For Mr. Murray included in his figures nearly 2,000,000 tons of idle Bessemer steel capacity. This capacity is idle for a very good reason: there is currently a shortage in pig iron, and only pig iron, not scrap, can be used in the Bessemer process. The shortage of pig iron, which is being ameliorated by the construction of new blast-furnace capacity, has, in turn, been brought about by the necessity of using increased amounts of pig iron in the open-hearth process, owing to the shortage of steel scrap, much of which has been exported to Japan, over the protests of the steel industry. Mr. Murray also included finishing capacity in his calculation of idle plant capacity, whereas it is generally admitted that we have an abundance of finishing capacity in this country, the squeeze being in the basic steelmaking process. Coming on the heels of the Reuther plan, which likewise could not stand up under analysis, the Murray proposal forces one to wonder whether both are not part of a grand manœuvre by labor to take over some of the management of industry. The Murray plan, for example, envisages the creation of an industry council composed of equal representation of management and the Steel Workers’ Organizing Committee, with a government representative as chairman.

The record of the steel industry during the past decade is such as to inspire confidence in its ability to meet the needs of the future and to make such a proposal unnecessary. There was every incentive to retrench because of the tremendous losses which the steel companies had to bear, and yet the industry during that period spent over 1½ billion dollars for plant improvements. For 1941 a total of $282,000,000 has been set aside for new equipment and construction. The capacity of the industry is greater than it ever has been, fully 65 per cent greater than the peak production in 1917, during the World War. Our quality steels, so important in modern warfare, have been developed to such a point that some standardization even seems desirable. The methods of production of the steel industry have constantly grown more efficient. In the words of Ernest T. Weir, recent president of the American Iron and Steel Institute, the steel industry ‘is at the highest state of technological development in its history. . . . The physical condition of our industry is the best in its history.’ And the laboring force, thanks to the share-the-work program instituted by the steel industry, has been kept experienced despite the low level of operations. In fact, there are 20 per cent more men employed in the steel industry today than in 1929. Hourly wages are nearly 30 per cent higher, the work week has been drastically shortened, and the average severity of accidents was reduced 35 per cent between 1926 and 1939.

No nation can do without, steel. It is the essential material in peace or war. We are fortunate that the American steel industry has progressed as far as it has after the least profitable decade in its history. We can be certain that in the future it will not let America down.